Waste-Reducing Die-Cut Card Wins FPA Honors

One package is making quite an impact, for lessening its environmental impact. The CardioFocus HeartLight Cardiac Ablation System Balloon Catheter Die-Cut Tray manufactured by Beacon Converters Inc. has been honored with two awards from the Flexible Packaging Association during its annual meeting and awards ceremony held in Naples, FL, on February 26, 2013. The die-cut tray has received FPA's Gold Award for Environmental and Sustainability Achievement and its Gold Award for Technical Innovation.

The CardioFocus HeartLight Cardiac Ablation System Tray

CardioFocus's HeartLight Cardiac Ablation system is a complex, fragile device for treating atrial fibrillation, requiring stability in all directions, reports Beacon Converters. The system includes a heavy, bulky handle; a large fluid reservoir; and bending-sensitive fiber optics and tubing. A typical package for such a system would be a heavy-gauge thermoformed tray, but Beacon developed an HDPE die-cut flexible sheet that is folded and fastened to form a functionally rigid tray. Wrapping entirely around certain components of the system, the tray offers custom features that secure, stabilize, and protect the delicate components through a rigorous distribution environment, Beacon explained.

Al Stancampiano, director of product development for CardioFocus, explained the product and its package during a recent PMP News Webcast. The system's HeartLight balloon catheter was packaged in the die-cut tray from Beacon Converters.
"The packaging for this device is rather unique in its complexity. To prevent damage to the catheter during shipping and transportation, CardioFocus and Beacon Converters collaborated to develop a custom solution for the HeartLight catheter, which could pass the ASTM D4169 transportation testing standard," explained Stancampiano.

Beacon reports that the tray holds the catheter handle, one of the largest device components, in place in all directions (north, south, east, and west on the card as well as up and down.) The handle houses a sensitive and fragile component–a steering knob for the physician to guide the laser –in a window within the handle itself.  

The catheter needed to be held firmly straight until use, and the tray needed to be sufficiently rigid to allow catheter preparation, Stancampiano explained. The tray also needed to allow easy removal of the device. "After reviewing these product requirements and considering the high cost of such a long thermoformed tray that would require additional clips and hold-downs, the die-cut tray with formable triangular sidewalls was an obvious choice," he explained.


Beacon produced the die-cut tray from one 0.035-in. sheet of 100% recyclable HDPE. Tray sidewalls are formed during the loading process, using tabs along the tray's length to maintain its shape, Beacon explains. The result is a tray that uses 32% less packaging material and 50% less weight than a thermoformed tray. (For more details on the design and to hear Alison Tyler, technical director for Beacon Converters, explain the die-cut insert card's sustainable and economical benefits, please click on this Webcast link to view the exclusive event.)

Greg Dahl of Dahl Packaging Associates (Wilbraham, MA) was pivotal in the design work that was required for the very complex die card tray, Tyler reports. Dahl worked closely with CardioFocus and Beacon and was able to translate needs into design concepts, she says. 

During Beacon's Webcast, Tyler also discussed the company's approaches for protecting medical devices while protecting the environment. "About 5.2 million tons of waste are produced each year by the healthcare industry, with 20-30% associated with operating room waste," she explained. Much of this waste is landfilled, she reported, and Beacon hopes to divert more of the waste toward recycling streams. Beacon's die-cut HDPE sheets used for trays and inserts can be fully recycled, Tyler explained. Beacon Converters has joined PracticeGreenhealth to help promote recycling and other ways to handle waste more sustainably. It is a sponsor of PracticeGreenhealth's Greening the OR initiative.

Beacon reports that tabs along the tray’s length are used to form the triangular geometry of the tray sidewalls during the packaging process.

And for the plastics waste that cannot be easily recycled, Beacon has begun a pilot program with Agilyx Corp. to handle mixed plastic waste. Agilyx takes comingled waste with resin types 1 through 7 and produces what Todd Pendexter, Agilyx's business development manager, called "high-value crude oil" that can be used to manufacture transportation fuels. "Eight percent of the world's oil supply goes into plastics," he explained. "Only 6% of all the plastics in the United States is recycled, with 77% of the waste going to landfills, 13% incinerated, and 4% exported. We don't compete with recycling, which is always the highest and best use from an economical and environmental standpoint, but our technology has positive impacts over exporting, incineration, and landfilling."

For more details, please view the Webcast.


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